On a beautiful spring day in 2012, I entered an authentic Mexican restaurant in Toronto and ordered a burrito. The waitress asked me what sauce I wanted on it.
There were three sauces, of increasing intensity. I don’t remember their names, but the spiciest one was called Aztec Lava. The name itself should have been a clue, honestly.
I asked for Aztec Lava on my burrito. The waitress calmly and matter-of-factly said, “Don’t take that. You’re a white boy.” My friends and I laughed.
“Don’t worry about me. I’m an Arab, we eat spicy food.” I said this while recalling eating fresh spicy peppers or the red “shatta” we have with falafel. “I’ll take the Aztec Lava.”
“No problem,” she replied. “Just to let you know, you will have to pay for it even if you don’t eat it.” That’s a second clue that I missed.
The burrito arrived covered in a light green sauce. I took a small bite of it and immediately felt the deepest pits of hell open up inside my mouth.
Sometimes, when you eat spicy food, your mouth becomes accustomed to it, and the next few bites become less aggressive, and eventually you just enjoy the heat.
Not the Aztec Lava on this burrito though.
It was so spicy that it was bitter. It was so spicy that it eliminated all taste buds in my mouth. I couldn’t pick up on anything from the burrito. And it wouldn’t calm down. No beer, no milk, no water could stop it. Oh, and the tears!!
I managed 1.125 bites of the burrito and then stopped. The waitress, upon picking up our plates later, gave me an I Told You So glance. I avoided eye contact.
I have not, since then, ever tasted anything as spicy. Nor tasted that level of humiliation.